Invista may cut 80 jobs at its Chattanooga plant, investing $10 million in boiler conversion project

Invista may cut 80 jobs at its Chattanooga plant, investing $10 million in boiler conversion project

August 4th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Textile Spinning Operator Tate Fugate works on one of the spinning machines on the second floor of the Invista plant in this file photo.

Textile Spinning Operator Tate Fugate works on one...

Photo by Kathleen Greeson

Invista may cut up to 80 jobs, about 20 percent of its workforce, at its Chattanooga plant in coming months, citing market conditions and reduced military contracts for one of its products.

But the fiber and polymer manufacturer said it's investing more than $10 million at the North Access Road site as it installs new boilers as a fuel source for production.

The company also said in a news release that Michel Lebrun is the new site manager at the plant, which originally was built and owned by DuPont.

Company spokesman Kim Conlee said Invista has 425 employees in Chattanooga before any restructuring of its workforce. Also, with other businesses and contractors, a total of about 775 people work at the plant, she said.

The company said the job cuts may come from those working to make light denier industrial fibers used in a variety of industrial applications.

Lebrun said in a statement that production of textured yarns for Invista's Cordura brand is ongoing in Chattanooga.

Also, the company's growing engineering polymers business in the city is unaffected, he said.

Conlee said the cost of the conversion from coal boilers to natural gas-fired boilers is in excess of $10 million.

The new boilers will result in "a significant reduction" of air emissions, while also increasing the efficiency of the site's power operation, according to Conlee.

Lebrun has 32 years experience in the industry and joined Invista in December 2010 as vice president of operations excellence, the company said.

He is relocating from Invista's Wichita, Kan., headquarters.

Lebrun replaces Stephen French, who served as site manager in Chattanooga since 2007.

French has become adipic acid operations manager at Invista's plant in Victoria, Texas, the company said.

Turkey-based Kordsa makes nylon cord at the Chattanooga plant. DuPont also maintains an operation at the factory.